ISU professor appears on “Dr. Phil” to discuss women’s alcohol consumption


Dr. Susan Stewart poses in front of a Dr. Phil backdrop while appearing on an episode of the show. Courtesy of Dr. Stewart.

Iowa State sociology professor Susan Stewart appeared on “Dr. Phil” earlier this month to voice her expert opinion on the current relationship between women and alcohol.

Stewart published a book, “On the Rocks: Straight Talk about Women and Drinking,” in August 2022 and has since been focusing much of her research on the issue.

Stewart currently heads the Sociology Club at Iowa State and debuted her “Dr. Phil” episode for club members at this week’s meeting. The screening was complete with pizza and refreshments for all students in attendance.

Dr. Susan Stewart and David Schweingruber reflect on their approach to the future of the newly formed Sociology Club Feb. 21. (Marijke Mendeszoon)

Stewart began the meeting by talking briefly about the newly formed group. Although not yet technically classified as a club, the Sociology Club hopes to become official by mid-March.

The group primarily focuses on preparing students for careers in sociology and other related fields as well as discussing various topics within the broad scope. The club is open to all students and meets once a week from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays.

Stewart first became involved in the opportunity to appear on “Dr. Phil” when producers of the show came across a press release for her book and reached out to her.

After accepting he invitation to appear on the show, Stewart made the flight out to Los Angeles in December for filming. The episode, part of “Dr. Phil’s” final season on air, took place at Paramount Studios.

During the episode, Stewart discussed her research and some of the alarming statistics mentioned in her book regarding women and alcohol.

“It was a great experience,” Stewart said.

The show was filmed in seven-minute segments separated by several bouts of “awkward silence” during commercial breaks, according to Stewart.

Although much of the full episode was edited out, Stewart was able to give her expert opinion on several points and discuss her research with Dr. Phil and the other guests. Stewart noted that all the staff, including Dr. Phil, were very welcoming.

“I didn’t even get to shake his hand though,” Stewart said in a joking manner.

When researching for her book, Stewart interviewed 32 women above the age of 25, all of whom were residents of Iowa. During these interviews, which lasted anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours, Stewart discussed everything from the women’s weekly drinking habits to the use of marijuana.

Stewart stated that although all of the women initially classified themselves as “social drinkers,” research would suggest that many of their drinking habits could be classified as addictions or disorders.

“Women are drinking more than ever,” Stewart said.

Alcohol abuse among women has increased by 84% in the last 10 years, according to Stewart’s research.

“During COVID, everyone was drinking more,” Stewart said.

Throughout the pandemic, there was a 26% increase in alcohol-related deaths. One out of every five deaths of individuals ages 20-49 was due to excessive consumption over this period.

“I think [alcohol consumption] can be habitual but not necessarily an addiction,” Stewart said.

Stewart also mentioned that women’s drinking habits can often be the result of social pressure.

“It can be compared to when women began smoking during the time when they first joined men in the workspace,” Stewart said.

Many believe that women’s drinking habits are often more criticized due to their perceived societal role. Much of the focus around alcohol, including recovery options, is geared toward males.

“AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) was developed by men, for men, back in the 1930s,” Stewart said.

Aura Garcia, a senior studying sociology and a member of the Sociology Club, also voiced her opinion surrounding the topic.

“Women can feel the way they do about their drinking habits because of the expectation of what women are supposed to be,” Garcia said.

Stewart’s full “Dr. Phil” episode can be viewed on YouTube and additional information on her research can be found on the Juniper Publishers website.